Putting a STOP to Bullying: Top Tips for Foster Carers

The Anti-Bullying Week 2017 theme this year was “All Equal, All Different, and All Together”. Its aim is to support schools and youth organisations to celebrate difference and diversity; bring children and young people together to celebrate what makes them and others unique; and help create welcoming and inclusive environments both off and online for children and young people.

What is bullying?

The Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum defines bullying as: the repeated use of power by one or more persons intentionally to hurt, harm or adversely affect the rights and needs of another or others.

There are plenty of things that you as a foster carer can do if you think that a child you are looking after is being bullied.

How can bullying present itself?

Unfortunately, there are many ways that bullying can present itself:

  • Being made fun of, called names, put down or threatened.
  • Being left out, excluded or isolated from others.
  • Being forced to do something that they don’t want to do or know that they shouldn’t do.
  • Having rumours spread about themselves, or have others talking about them behind their backs.
  • Being hit, punched, kicked, tripped up, pinched, bitten or knocked over

As well as these, cyberbullying is the most recent way that children can targeted.  The Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum describes cyberbullying as: Bullying that takes place through electronic technologies such as mobile or smart phones, smart phone apps, social network websites and gaming consoles.’

What is bullying NOT?

  • An argument
  • A disagreement or falling out
  • Someone being ‘nasty’ as a one-off
  • A group dynamic issue where children or young people need to learn how to get on better

How can I help the situation?

Your first obligation as a foster carer is to ensure that your child feels safe. It is important that you keep your’s and your child’s social worker up to date on any concerns you have as they can offer additional insight and advice on how to progress.  Make sure that your child feels that they have the information to process the situation, with coping strategies and that they are clear who they can get support from when they feel overwhelmed.

  1. Talk to your child and explain that the bullying is not their fault, and that together you can sort out a solution.
  2. Raise all concerns with the child’s social worker and / or your own supervising social worker.
  3. Never dismiss any mention of bullying. It’s never acceptable and should always be taken seriously.
  4. Work together with your child and put a plan in place to help the situation.  Be transparent and keep communication channels open so they know what’s going on.
  5. Keep a diary of events and establish the facts.  If you have evidence, keep a record including screenshots, photos and texts if applicable.
  6. If the bullying is occurring at school, talk to the teacher.  Don’t get emotional. Instead, inform them of the facts of the situation and agree on an action plan.  Follow up this meeting in writing and ask for review meetings to ensure that actions are being taken to improve the situation.
  7. Identify coping strategies and encourage them to talk through their concerns with you.  Work together to practice responses to given situations so that they feel better equipped.
  8. Encourage activities to build their confidence.

If you are one of our foster carers and you have concerns that your foster child is being bullied, please contact us.

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